Monday (April 26th) is the Feast of St. Mark. Since we won’t have an opportunity to celebrate this festival in worship, I wanted to take some time this week to reflect on how our identity and mission as a congregation is shaped by our namesake Gospel. I am lifting up some of my favorite things from Mark’s Gospel that I think are important for us to consider as a congregation today.
Just the Beginning
Mark’s Gospel introduces itself in its opening line as “the beginning of Good News of Jesus Christ.” Mark’s Gospel announces that God is doing something new and good – the Kingdom of God is at hand! – and this has profound implications on how we live our lives in the world. And, it’s just the beginning. God is just getting started. All the Good News that Mark shares with us is just the start of the new life God is bringing forth in our lives.
How is our life as a congregation continuing to be shaped as God doing something new? What would it mean for how, specifically, we share the redeeming love of Jesus if we were to trust that God was just getting started? I, for one, hope for a bold vision of what is possible in this next chapter of God’s Good News for us.
Who will tell?
My absolute favorite part of Mark’s Gospel is the very end. Very early on that first morning at the empty tomb, the first to arrive find Jesus absent and hear the Good News that he has been raised. They are instructed to go and tell the others, but instead, they run away, terrified and “say nothing to anyone.” It begs the question: but if they don’t tell anyone, how will anyone know the Good News of the resurrection??
It’s as if Mark invites, or even commands the readers into the story. Who will tell? We will! We are called to share the Good News of God’s unfailing love, as we continue to be met at the “tomb” places of our lives to hear once again that God has something new and good in store for us. Our mission statement as a congregation includes the mandate to “proclaim the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.” Our purpose is to pick up where Mark’s Gospel left off and be the angel messengers that TELL this Good News! Anytime we tell (or better yet, show!) others that they are worthy of love, when we serve and support each other and our neighbors, God’s Kingdom is being proclaimed.
A Sense of Urgency
Marks’ Gospel is by far the shortest and fastest paced. Jesus is constantly on the move, from one encounter to the next, with the word “immediately” appearing over 40 times throughout the story. Christ does not delay, as God’s reign is imminent. There is much work to be done to prepare the way, and apathy and procrastination are not options. The work of Christ in saving and changing lives through the Gospel is urgent.
Is there a sense of urgency in our ministry? Can we have a sense that the Gospel is such good and important news that we simply must get out and share it? Where is there suffering in our own communities where we can no longer sit around on the sidelines, but actively participate in God’s redemptive work?
I wonder how often congregations think about how their namesake influences or is influenced by who they are as a community. But if we take up that task, I can’t think of a better saint, a better gospel, a better evangelist to follow as we continue to serve Christ and proclaim the Gospel in Hamilton in the years to come!
Peace be with you,
Rev. Ian Hill